Why are Chefs Generally Men?

Friday, November 28, 2008

A couple of weeks back my gang got together for a low budget party. Not that recession has forced us into resorting to such desparate measures but it was just that we had not gotten together and cooked food ourselves for ages. The menu looked amazing and post a 3 hour ordeal that my kitchen was subjected to, out came the dishes that tasted as good as they smelt. It was an all boys gang doing the work from scratch so the kitchen did wear a dilapidated look. How and who cleaned it up can be saved for a later date but what matters is that the food tasted Yummy! And that’s no self praise!

The best thing about drinking is that it makes you feel less shallow. So, with each peg that we gulped down, the chit-chat started to swerve from shallow talks about individuals to more generic topics that could concern humanity too. We moved from talking about the loser who stayed right across the street to India’s standing in the World Market in the wake of the recession gripping the economy. Mid-way, we spent some time discussing about a topic that made me pen them down here. While we were busy praising each other for the tasty dishes we cooked, a thought flashed our enlightened minds (the concoction for an enlightened mind is 2-3 X 60ml of any hard drink) – Why are chefs generally men?

Strangely, everyone was in unison in hypothesizing. After all, it was a matter of being one of a kind. The elation at cooking well was evident in our surmising that good chefs indeed are men. If you are wondering how we postulated our theory, here’s the footloose thinking trail:

a.) Physically weak – I regard women as equal..well almost. Men can’t compete with them in languages; women can’t compete with us in analytics. On the same note, men can’t compete with them in beauty while women are not superior in terms of physical strength. Cooking for several people in hotels requires moving heavy pots and doing a lot of physical activities besides mixing cooking ingredients. That requires you to be physically capable. True, the top chefs don’t do it but this is how you rise through the ranks. Women are left out of the race in the initial stages itself. They can’t do all that at the junior level so they seldom get through to the top.

b.) Eye for detail – Have you ever wondered why you were reprimanded by your Mum as a child for keeping your shoes under the table or seen her lose temper when your Dad forgot to remove the wet bathing towel from the dining chair? Women have an eye for detail and are pretty fussy about it. Men look at the bigger picture. How does that make a difference? Well, cooking is indeed a lot about looking at the bigger picture. Women end up confusing themselves as they look into details such as adding the exact amount of spices and salt to make the curry taste “just” right. Men on the other hand work on approximations. Cooking is an art and not a science. So, what matters is the artistic or should I say the culinary touch and not the 2 teaspoonfuls of salt that you add strictly as per the recipe.

c.) Late Working Hours – Big hotels or small motels, they all run till late in the night. And kitchen is not an open space. It becomes difficult for women to actually spend late hours at such places. To add to it, they have to attend to their homes and no family will accept its woman cooking delicacies for others while they manage with a hired cook. With the BPO boom, women working late hours have become a norm. They have also become more liberated with each passing day coining catchlines such as “Why should boys have all the fun?” This wasn’t the case earlier.

d.) Male Domination – Traditionally, culinary industry has been dominated by men. Women are at best involved in the administrative work but the real action is a stronghold of men. No one likes to let go off their position of strength. Call it gender bias or anything, male domination gives little space for women to make it big here. I don’t regard it as something to do with men. Even women wouldn’t let men enter their domains of expertise.

It is not a secret that men do rule the roost in this sphere even though it is a paradox in itself because home kitchens are ruled by women. Having put across all my points, I must admit that men lived to discuss this and to write this piece only because a woman worked non-stop in their kitchens for all these years so that they could be fed. When you are away from home for a long time, you don’t long for the best cooked food in the number one restaurant of your town, you long for what she cooked for you at home. She might not be the best chef in the world but she is beyond comparison.


No Mad Explorer.... said...

nice analaysis....i had a nice read on something so strange....


Sensible Garbage said...

@no mad explorer: Thanks for commenting, it seems only you have been following the blog for updates of late :) The discussion was livelier than the way I have prtrayed it though..;)

Anonymous said...

women can’t compete with us in analytics ... and thus analysis was carried out by a group of analysts :)

Anonymous said...

sexist crap

Sensible Garbage said...

@anon: perception based on experience might turn out to be incorrect if facts prove otherwise. it is not sexist though :)

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